HANOI: 10 Reasons Why I Love this Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

May 24, 2018

HANOI: 10 Reasons Why I Love this Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

If you don't have time to stay overnight in Halong Bay, this is a day tour I highly recommend. The cheapest day tour I could find is only half the price of this tour but they have a lot of problems like cramped vans, overbooked boats, a long and bumpy van ride, hanging out too long in souvenir shops instead of a longer stay at Halong Bay. Since it's only a day, comfort and maximized time is essential. Comfort is essential because if you don't feel well after the 3 hour van ride, you end up not enjoying the short stay at Halong Bay. It's also important to maximize time by avoiding long wait times in boats and in souvenir shops because as I said, it takes away time spent at Halong Bay if you spend it on these unimportant  activities that can be avoided.

Here are 10 reasons why I love the Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

1. Late hotel pick-up time

We were picked up 9:00 AM so we need not wake up too early (We're on vacation, right? 😊). We were also able to enjoy a long and hearty breakfast.

Despite the late pick up time, we arrived ahead of a lot of tourists. I will explain later.

2. The luxury van is spacious and is limited to a comfortable number of passengers.

The luxury van is very spacious and comfortable, it has spacious leather seats that can be reclined, has free WiFi, charging port and complimentary bottled water. The 3 hour ride was fast and comfortable. We were able to rest well so we were able to enjoy cruising Halong Bay.

3. Our guide, Choung, is very well-informed, attentive and entertaining.

Our guide, Chuong took care of us very well. He was very attentive to our needs. He is well informed and shared with us a wealth of information about Vietnamese life and culture from a personal perspective which gave us an insider's view of Hanoi life.

4. The route of this tour uses the highway so travel time is faster.

They picked us up 9 am but we were able to arrive ahead of the other tours. We rode the boat immediately and visit the caves without the crowd of tourists because we arrived ahead of them because our van used the faster route.

Other cheaper tour groups avoid paying the toll for the highway, so they use the longer, less paved route.

5. We stopped briefly to use the toilet and weren't brought to any souvenir shops.

We liked that we stopped just a few minutes to use the toilet so we were able to save time and maximize our stay at Halong Bay. 

This is the toilet stop

6. They limit the number of passengers riding the van and the boat. So we weren't crowded.

Inside the van

Inside the boat 

7. Waiting time to board the boat is only brief. 

8. Food is delicious. Drinks are included in the rate. 

9. The bamboo boat or kayak ride (you have a choice between the two) used to explore the inner islands of Halong Bay is included in the rate

10. The tour's pace is perfect and not tiring but we loved that it included the right combination of highlights on the must see and experience at Halong Bay. 

Major highlights:

A cruise along Halong bay

Bamboo boat ride or Kayak to the inner islands of Halong Bay

Dau Go Cave Tour 

In conclusion:

Despite it being more expensive than other day tours, I consider it value for money and will highly recommend it to others. The additional expense is worth it because it gave us a very enjoyable, comfortable and comprehensive day tour of Halong Bay and a quick peek on Vietnamese life and culture through the personal perspective of our guide, Chuong.


UP DILIMAN: Where to Find the Notary Public

UP DILIMAN: Where to Find the Notary Public

The office of the notary public is located at the back of the UP Kamagong Centennial Dormitories near the Jacinto Street entrance of UP Diliman.

The Jacinto Street entrance is at the right. 




Just to give you an idea of rates: 150 pesos for an ordinary affidavit. Call them to find out other rates. 

MANILA: Gloriamaris Greenhills Restaurant: What to Order

May 20, 2018

MANILA: Gloriamaris Greenhills Restaurant: What to Order 

Our favorite Chinese restaurant in Manila is Gloriamaris Greenhills restaurant. They serve very good quality Chinese food but it's a bit expensive. So we go there only on special occasions, or when there's a 50% off promo from credit cards. 

Usually, the 50% discount only covers the food bill including VAT (value added tax), and doesn't cover drinks and service charge. But that's already a lot. Our food bill for what we ordered (shown below) amounted to only a little less than 5000 pesos, when it should have been a little less than 9000 pesos. 

We usually reserve our seats at the fine dining section so we can also order from the dimsum and hotpot menu, aside from ordering from the fine dining menu. 

These are the iconic dishes we ordered. 

Sautéed Sweet and sour pork
(Medium, 990 pesos) 

Hot Prawn Salad
(Medium - 1630 pesos)
Note: They used real prawns and not shrimps like other smaller restaurants do) 

Peking Duck whole served 2 ways
(3,600 pesos) 

This is the Peking Duck first way:
You wrap the skin and meat in a thin pancake, with hoisin sauce and leeks then fold it.

The second way:
You have a choice between minced duck wrapped in lettuce or just chopped duck seasoned with salt and pepper.

We usually choose minced duck. Sorry. I forgot to take a photo of the minced duck 

(198 pesos)
Their Hakaw is really great. Instead of just one shrimp, they put 2 shrimps inside the dumpling 

Ma Po Tofu
(Small - 600 pesos)
We usually request very spicy Ma Po Tofu. 


(Note: the small size plate is usually good for 5-6 persons) 

My tip: Dine at Gloriamaris when there is a 50% credit card promo. To know when there's a promo, like their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OfficialGloriaMarisGH/

You can text them at +63 998 570 0921 for reservations.

Here is a sample of the terms of  50% off promo:

BAGUIO: Where to Find Baguio Country Club Raisin Bread Outside Baguio Country Club

April 21, 2018

BAGUIO: Where to Find Baguio Country Club Raisin Bread 
Outside Baguio Country Club

If you're not a member of Baguio Country Club, you can buy their famous raisin bread at Villa Cordillera  also known as Fairways and Greens Bed And Breakfast. 

(Photo taken from Villa Cordillera website)
Price: 265 pesos 

Villa Cordillera is located at Outlook Drive, Baguio City. It is also known as Fairways and Greens Bed and Breakfast

Contact Information: 

Villa Cordillera
Landline: + 63-74 -442 6036
Mobile: +63-917 400 7146

My tip: 

Call ahead of time to reserve and make sure that the raisin bread is available when you arrive. Raisin breads are usually delivered at 7:00 AM and gets sold out pretty fast. They don't accept advance payment for reservations but they will text you when new deliveries arrive within the day. They accept credit card for payment. 

TOKYO: My Tips on How to Get GHIBLI Museum Tickets Online

April 14, 2018

TOKYO: My Tips on How to Get GHIBLI Museum Tickets Online 

I was able to get 6 Ghibli Museum tickets for May 2018 and I'd like to share with you my tips on how to get one. 

1. Prepare the following information before buying the tickets:

a. Name of the group leader or the one who will claim the ticket 

b. Passport number of the group leader

c. Telephone number of the group leader

d. Address where you are staying 

e. Credit card number

f. Email address

g. 4 digit alphanumeric password which they will ask you to input for you to be able to access in their site the voucher issued after payment is complete. 

My tip: Write this all down in a word file before ticketing opens so that you will be able to cut and paste the information during online purchase and complete the process fast. 

2. Go to their website to buy tickets at 10:00 AM Japan time on the 10th day of month the month  before  you plan to visit.

For instance, if you plan to buy tickets  for June, buy tickets on May 10. Be sure to be at the site at 10:00 AM JAPAN time. They open ticketing a month before the date you plan to visit. Tickets are usually sold out within an hour when ticketing opens. 

My tip: Put an alarm on your phone 30 minutes before ticketing opens so you don't forget. Determine what's the equivalent of 10:00 AM Japan time to your local time, if you are not situated in Japan when buying online. Go to the website at exactly that particular time. 

3. After you get into their site, be patient while it loads. DO NOT REFRESH WHILE IT LOADS. 

It may take a while before the calendar appears or your choice is accepted but do not refresh while it loads. Otherwise, you will lose your place in the line. The site will tell you to wait. Follow it. Refresh only after the site tells you to try again. 

I was at the site at 10:00 AM. I was able to buy the tickets by 10:16 AM. I chose the 2:00 PM slot on a Wednesday. 

4. After you have completed payment, an email will be sent to you with a link on where to access your voucher. Don't forget the email address, the exact telephone number you inputted in the form, and  the 4 digit alpha numeric password you gave. 

These 3 things are the information you will be asked after clicking the link sent to your email to access your voucher. In my case, I forgot to input the country code with my telephone number. So to access my voucher, I had to input the telephone number without the country code as well. 

Manila International Airport Lounge: The Wings Transit Lounge at NAIA Terminal 3

April 3, 2018

Manila International Airport Lounge:
The Wings Transit Lounge at NAIA Terminal 3

This is a pay lounge that both international and domestic passengers can access because it is located in  a public area at the 4th level food court beside McDonald's Cafe. The Skyview lounge can only be used by international passengers because Skyview lounge is located after immigration and security check and above the duty-free area. Check out my post : Manila International Airport Lounge: The Sky View Lounge at NAIA Terminal 3

All the information is shown above.
You can contact them directly for more information 
Reception area

Lounge area

BDO Diamond rewards members can use this lounge for free together with one companion. Both the member and the companion must present their ticket or boarding passes to avail of this facility.

For further information, this is their website: http://jipang-group.com/thewings/